Entangled at the Cross

The following post is from my good friend Andrew Wilson. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I never thought that I would think about particle physics and theology in the same conversation. I was thinking too small. Or maybe I was thinking too big because I haven’t thought about particle physics too much. As one who has always been fascinated with space, stars, and the secrets of the universe, my focus was fated to eventually shift from the very large to the very small.

I have not made it as deep into these scientific subjects as I would like, but at some point during my inquisitions, I made the following observation and wanted to share my thoughts online. I am grateful to Collin Selman for allowing me to post this assemblage of personal experience, scientific theory, and theology on his personal blog.

A riveting line of thought within quantum theory is the idea of entanglement. Entanglement suggests that particles are connected despite nonlocality, physical distance of hundreds of miles or more. Their properties seem to be intertwined against all odds, and measuring properties on one particle appears to have an effect on the other particle. For example, if Particle A has a clockwise spin, the observer can know with certainty that Particle B has an anti-clockwise spin.

A comparison that I found helpful in picturing how entanglement might work came from the illustration of a pair of gloves. Imagine that someone splits a pair of gloves and mails one to New York and one to London. The person who opens the package in New York instantly knows the state of the other glove, despite physical distance. If the receiver in New York has the left-hand glove, he knows that the glove in London is for the right hand or vice versa. Clearly particles are different from gloves, but this clarified my understanding.

Albert Einstein described this phenomenon as “spooky action at a distance.” The term entanglement was not around yet, and it was referred to as the EPR Paradox at this point in time. Einstein criticised Bohr’s work saying that quantum theory was not yet complete.

At this juncture, I think there is enough information on the table to transition to a parallel series of thoughts. As I was driving one day, I thought about how entanglement and the doctrine of substitutionary atonement match nicely together. The latter concerns itself greatly with how the sacrifice of Christ made payment for sin. The wrath of God must be satisfied, and Jesus offered himself on the cross as propitiation for those who would accept it.

This is reinforced in scripture in several places. Here are two verses that came to mind. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Here is where I had my epiphany. As a believer, I am entangled with Christ. One of us had sin, the other did not. One of us could pay the price, the other could not. One of us was on the right path, the other was spinning out of control. Just like those particles, though, our conditions were linked. If you measure Christ, He qualifies as holy. If you measure me, I do not. However, He chose to become “entangled” with me. Only one of us was worthy, and He switched conditions with me.

He took all of my anti-clockwise ways and gave me His clockwise ways. He became sin so that I might become the righteousness of God. I have never been to Jerusalem or the first century, but through some “spooky action at a distance,” He took my place. Now when God measures me, He sees Christ in my place, and for that, I am grateful.

I called one of my friends to bounce this idea around, and she responded with a clever observation. She said that one of her favourite parts about science was equilibrium. She purported that in order for there to be spiritual homeostasis, the redemptive narrative of the life of Christ was absolutely necessary following the fall of man. The same God who created the universe to work together in balance was also there to oversee its spiritual wellbeing.

As I continue to be a curious citizen of planet Earth, I’m sure that I will encounter more topics that cross over from theoretical inquiries to devotional thoughts, and perhaps Collin will be gracious enough to let me borrow some space on his blog again. Thank you for reading along.

– Andrew Wilson

P.S. In a similar vein, I also reflected on the movie, Interstellar during my preparation for this blog post. There is a scene where Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey’s characters are arguing on what to do next. Dr. Brand (Hathaway) implores Cooper (McConaughey) to listen to her. She says, “Maybe it means something more – something we can’t yet understand. Maybe it’s some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive. I’m drawn across the universe to someone I haven’t seen in a decade, who I know is probably dead. Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can’t understand it.”

One line in particular stands out for me: “Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.” Again I will say, my life has been changed by a man who lived in a part of the world where I’ve never been in a time in which it is impossible to return. However, the love displayed in His sacrifice impacts me daily. Love does transcend time and space, and that is the Gospel.

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A Lesson from FedEx on Salvation, Sanctification, and Stewardship

A while ago I saw this commercial from FedEx. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH0KYawaQWk) Of course it brought some pretty good chuckles, but it also struck me as pretty poignant. The delivery man, spent x amount of time on a deserted island trying to survive all by himself. Little known to him, though, the very package he was avoiding opening had everything that he needed in order to thrive on the island and get in touch with people who could help him. Imagine being that man when he finally arrives at his destination and finds out everything that he needed was sitting right beside him the entire time.

Salvation

This short video struck me in multiple ways as I thought about the plight of the castaway. The first concerns salvation. Considering the feelings of the delivery man after he finally made the delivery, in a way, I wonder if that is what some people will feel like after we leave this life (to more dramatic implications, though).
Some will arrive before the Throne on judgment day and find out that God does indeed exist and required of us faith in His Son in order to have life eternal. They try to make some excuse that they did not have the right information they needed in order to make the right decisions, but then God reveals to them that He had given them all the evidence they had needed to make a decision about him.

Sanctification

The second thing that struck me, and probably hit the hardest, was how this relates to fellow believers. How many times do we feel the Spirit’s pull towards holiness and we drift away or push back out of fear, feelings of inadequacy, pride, or outright selfishness? The truth is that many times we will read about or notice someone who seems especially close to God or especially holy and our tendency is to immediately start making excuses as to why we cannot be that person or why that person was an exception to the rule.
“I’m not _____ enough. I don’t have the time, talent, or resources. I want to do ______ but ______.” These are phrases that are probably all too familiar to us and yet should have no bearing on our pursuit of God, our sanctification, or our journey to holiness.
Like the man in the commercial, we have been given everything that we need in order to flourish in this life God has granted to us. We have all we need in this life to pursue God and a life of holiness (for more read 2 Peter 1:1-11). We have the responsibility and the resources to pursue holiness. The question now becomes, do we have the resolve?

Stewardship

Then the final idea that struck me was concerning stewardship. Jesus tells a story in the Gospels (Matthew 25:14-30) of how a master gave three servants various degrees of money. Two of them used their money wisely and produced a return for their master. The third servant, however, dug a hole in the ground and hid his money he had been given. When the master returned, he rewarded the first two servants but punished the last severely.
Why did the master call his servant worthless and have him thrown into the outer darkness? Because, as a call to myself and all believers, the servant was unfaithful with the resources he had been given. He was entrusted as a steward of his master’s money and did not use it for the benefit of his master. The question I pose myself then, is am I using my time, talent, and treasures in a faithful, God-honoring manner?
My hope, unlike how the delivery man handled the package (though I am sure he was quite valiant in his efforts), is that we would not neglect the truth of God around us, the Word he has given us, or the resources He has blessed us with. When we do this, I believe that we will become powerful agents for His kingdom and find more joy in Him than we ever have before.